A bit too hard on him over the prequel films in my opinion (this isn’t a film capable of delving into the pros and cons of the prequel trilogy). Then again, it was mostly based on an initial reaction, plus it does take eventually consider the perspective/opinion of the new generation, the young kids, who didn’t mind the faults in the films. On the other hand, it only too briefly mentions websites that supported the prequel films after the backlash.
The main strength lies in the debate over Lucas altering the original trilogy, and the angry back-and-forth opinions generated from fans around that issue. Plus the mentioning of how Lucas became the very thing he was fighting against, and became a hypocrite against his own philosophies.
The film is biased, but for the most part it’s my kind of bias. Regardless, can’t give it more than 3 stars for that reason.
I wrote some notes during my viewing, and I figured I’d change things up a bit and just put out what I’ve written (with some additions as I type), as sporadic and messy as they are. I’d rather just let the film speak for itself rather than comment too much on it (as I believe I’ve had my say over this subject in my earlier review of The Last Jedi).
“If Hollywood isn’t going to risk telling new stories, the least they could do is not fuck up the old ones.” — David Ehrlich
I tried. I tried with considerable effort to avoid getting back into discussing this film. I did a review of this film months ago, and I may have left a couple things out, but I had my say.
But no. Nope. Nuh-uh. Social media, youtube, review sites, blog sites, articles, all of them just wouldn’t let me let it go. The shit they kept saying, the clashes, the responses and backlashes from those who liked the movie, and those who didn’t. And on top of all that shit, the goddamn movie studios paying off critics and websites to take down or altogether prevent the publishing of negative criticism. Rotten Tomatoes is the holy grail, the end-all-be-all of opinions that everyone must live by or be damned (because it’s always safe to throw all your eggs into one basket).
Jesus Christ. So much bullshit that keeps building up, and just made me despise the movie, and the studio and those behind-the-scenes who made the film, even more. They’ve done more damage than the plot holes and logical fallacies ever could have. And I…
So revisiting this trilogy after a few years, I have to admit, it’s a bit better than I remember. Probably because I was too young to give a shit about the political elements. And make no mistake, this trilogy is heavy handed with the political messaging. Yet it succeeds in this regard, unlike The Last Cocksucking Jedi which made the serious mistake if injecting radical politics into the film without making them an integral part of not just the film’s plot, but of the entire trilogy’s plot.
Now, that being said, the prequel trilogy isn’t without its faults, and a few of them are serious, especially when compared to what was setup in the original trilogy. The faults range from insulting to laughable to meh.
Rated: 3.5 / 5
So the opening text crawl states that the Jedi are guardians of peace and justice. Guess it won’t be long before they fuck that up.
But anyway, the text crawl also starts more complicated than the originals. There are mentions of politics, trade embargoes, taxes, etc. It’s an early indication that this Star Wars trilogy will be more focused on such governmental aspects compared to the original trilogy. While the original trilogy had indications of governmental/political struggles, that was more of a background element, while the foreground kept things focused on the journey of a young ambitious man who would fulfill his destiny of becoming a Jedi, and also redeem someone considered nonredeemable. The prequel trilogy would bring the politics more to the forefront. And to be honest, it seems appropriate to do so, considering that it’s also about the rise of the Galactic Empire, how the Clone Wars came to be, and the fall of the Republic (showing the time before the dark times, and how the dark times came to be).
“There is no civility, only politics.”
That being said, it’s not exactly the best opening text crawl out there to get audiences eager to see what would happen next. “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic due to a trade dispute.” Oh God, the horror! The humanity! Not a trade dispute! Holy shit, they better get their shit together before higher tariffs are implemented causing everyone in the Republic to have a hard time making ships and annoying dumbass robots! It will be the end of us!
At least some nice words of wisdom have returned to the franchise.
“Master Yoda said I should be mindful of the future.”
“But not at the expense of the moment.”
Good stuff. Is there more? You bet there is.
Anyway, while this film does get a bad rap nowadays, particularly because of Jar Jar Binks (who I can tolerate better than the average movie-goer apparently, though there are two brief scenes that were completely unnecessary and added nothing to the film other than having immature slapstick humor), it still has plenty of awesome stuff in it that, in my opinion, allows it to surpass anything that the more recent (albeit incomplete) Star Wars trilogy has to offer (though just between you and me, I’m not considering this new trilogy to be canon, considering it’s being made by idiotic unoriginal politically-driven buffoons).
For starters, we get to see what the Republic was like, how things generally functioned “before the dark times,” and what the Jedi were capable of. Great lightsaber play (even if it is too acrobatic for its own good, going more for the circus performance style than the grounded samurai style; though in all fairness anime pull this shit all the time, so…), good use of force powers that only builds on what we’ve already scene, not adding anything too new or too out there (which is a good thing).
And then there’s the pod race scene. I love this entire sequence. The lack of music for at least half of the race allows for great tension, letting the sound effects do the work much as they did for lightsaber battles in the OT (original trilogy), and as they did for the bike chase in Return of the Jedi. One of the more intense and gripping bits in this whole film. Plus it’s clear this sequence is paying homage to Ben Hur (the Charleton Heston one from the 50s, not the cocksucking 2016 remake).
And if nothing else, Lucas sure does know how to put on a finale. The Duel of the Fates has gone down as one of the greatest fight sequences of all time, with the choreography between Kenobi and Maul and Rob Roy matched (if not surpassed) by the accompanying music by John Williams. It’s nothing short of a masterpiece, and worth the price of admission alone. And Darth Maul became one of the most famous villains in the franchise, just by his look and presence (along with that famously introduced dual-lightsaber), with very little dialogue spoken in the entire film. Not to mention the other battles going on during this time.
Now, with that being said, when they encounter Darth Maul during the finale… it’s pretty stupid when you think about it. What they do when he shows up is split up, having all non-Jedi take the “long way” to the throne room, while Kenobi and Qui-Gon fight Maul and have one of the most awesomely epic lightsaber duels in Star Wars history. Now that sounds awesome and all, but why wouldn’t everybody just start unloading on this guy? They’re all standing right in front of him. Shoot him! You have 2 Jedi to assist you!
Now for the problems I did have with this film. The first thing that came up I had a problem with wasn’t Jar Jar, but R2-D2. Not that he was on the ship they used to fly through the blockade (though that is a big coincidence he would just so happen to be there), but the commendation they gave this robot after saving the ship. It’s bullshit, and R2’s presence only exists just to pander to fans of the OT. And not only that, but from that point on R2 follows the protagonists practically wherever they go. Even for a prequel trilogy, this is pushing it. The only thing worse than that is seeing that Anakin Skywalker is the one responsible for building C3-PO. Bloody hell mahn! It’s ridiculous! How did C3-PO become capable of speaking/understanding all those tens of thousands of alien languages? Because Anakin taught him? Bullshit, and loads of it! The presence of those 2 robots insults me. There is no good reason at all to include them. Zip, nada. They could’ve used any other random robots to fill in these roles. Hell, C3-PO didn’t even need to be in this trilogy, considering he doesn’t do jack shit (at least he had a use in the OT).
As for the other problem, and you knew this was coming, the midi-chlorians.
“Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life-form that resides within all living cells. […] And we are symbionts with them. […] Life-forms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll hear them speaking to you.”
Now, to be honest, I don’t think this is as bad of a concept as some people make it out to be. When you analyze it, this isn’t saying the midi-chlorians are the Force, they are something else. I guess you could say they are some concept of the soul, or at least something that allows any living organism to be tuned to the force, making them more likely to be force-sensitive, and thus able to utilize it. With that said, this doesn’t belong in a Star Wars film. If I wanted scientific explanations for how magic works (as opposed to a philosophical explanation), I’d watch fucking Star Trek. Plus the main reason this was brought into the franchise (and no one really takes it seriously, nor should they) was for this whole Christ-birth metaphor for Anakin. It’s fucking bullshit, and when all is said and done, the trilogy could have been done without bringing this up in the first place. It’s as pointless as the, “There was no father,” line (ala the Christ metaphor). Fuck you, you’re just saying that because you don’t want to admit the father is Jabba the Hutt or something.
“Mom, you say the biggest problem in this universe is that no one helps each other.”
Personally, I’d rather go with the definition of midi-chlorians given in this video. It’s shorter, simpler, and makes more sense:
And that’s all, those are the only 2 major problems I had with this movie. The only other issues I had were more minor annoyances than anything else. Plus the great moments (the pod race, Duel of the Fates) more than make up for the bad moments.
“Greed can be a powerful ally.”
“Whenever you gamble my friend, eventually you’ll lose.”
And now for the last bit before moving on to the next film, the politics. As I said earlier, politics has a greater presence in this trilogy compared to the OT, and it’s worth discussing, considering how relevant its message is. So Palpatine (who is really Darth Sidious, the Sith Master; spoilers by the way) is behind the whole trade embargo, and utilized it as a way to gain power. Because he is one of the ambassadors for Naboo, and instigated the conflict as a way to gain power in the Senate. Whether Tatooine is left in turmoil, or if Padme lives or dies, is of no consequence. He instigates fear and chaos, and exploits the weaknesses of the Senate to gain power. And this is done when Padme realizes that the leaders of the Senate are unable to get things done efficiently in an adequate amount of time due to the corruption that is there. Palpatine shows to her, truthfully, where the corruption lies. That the Trade Federation has bought off some politicians, and thus has gained unfair political influence amidst the individuals running the Senate. Because humans are imperfect and are corruptible. Thus Padme makes her displeasure known publicly within the Senate, and calls for a new replacement to get things done, which the Senate overall agrees to, thus placing Palpatine in a higher position of power, though unknown to everyone he is more corrupted than anyone there.
“It is clear to me that the Republic no longer functions. I pray you will bring sanity and compassion back to the Senate.”
But the political intrigue doesn’t end there. The whole reason this move happens is because of fear of what would happen to her people, causing her to make a rash decision. Plus, seeing all the other races and world ambassadors within the Senate, it becomes clear that the plight of Naboo is just on small piece in the whole galaxy. Thousands of worlds, each with their own political structure, their own problems, their own issues. One can perceive from this that the universe doesn’t revolve around what the protagonists are doing. There are other events going on, providing rich material for spin-offs and fan-made novels/games/films. More on that later.
“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side.”
This element of fear leading others to do rash things is extended to the Jedi Council, who sense fear in Anakin, which can cause him to do rash things as well (which will be seen in the sequel). In addition, the Council itself has fears of the Sith and what they mean. They are keepers of the peace, they do not wish to get involved in conflict unless absolutely necessary (thus they largely abstain from Naboo’s plight, because there is more going on outside of Naboo). The Council does not wish to have Anakin trained, because he’s too old (pish posh), yet Qui-Gon decides to do it himself, going against the will of the council, similar to how Padme makes the move of promoting Palpatine, which goes against normal procedure. And it also shows signs of imperfection within the Jedi council. Even in Obi-Wan, with how he reacts to Qui-Gon bringing Anakin with him off of Tatooine, shows imperfections within his character.
“Why do I have the feeling we’ve picked up some other pathetic life form?”
There are similarities and connections to a few plot threads in this film, elements that are enhanced upon a rewatch, especially after seeing the entire trilogy. George Lucas had his game plan thought out from the get-go, before Episode I started filming, and it shows. Plenty of foreshadowing that has natural progressions and payoffs in the later films. Stuff like this makes me recognize the brilliance within the prequel trilogy, in spite of its faults. This saying pretty much sums up the political aspect of not just this movie, but of the entire prequel trilogy (PT): “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” While there is a celebration of peace and prosperity at the end of the film, knowing what lies ahead, it’s a bittersweet victory. Enjoy the peace while you can.
“He [Anakin] gives without any thought of reward.”
“He knows nothing of greed.”
Rated: 2.5 / 5
This used to be what I considered to be the worst Star Wars film ever (not including spin-offs, or anything outside of the episodes that have Roman numerals in them). That was until The Last Jedi came about. And to this day, I have to admit, this movie is pretty bad. I struggle at times on giving it a lower rating, but the last act prevents me from doing so.
First, the good stuff. The imperfections of the Republic have carried over into the opening text crawl of this film. Due to disagreements and civil division, many worlds have broken off from the Republic to join the Separatists. This sounds a bit eerily close to reality doesn’t it? If it doesn’t seem freakishly similar to events of today yet, wait until you get to the next episode.
But anyway, many are becoming worried about the state of affairs. How the Separatists are being formed, and the threat they pose to the Republic. But there is justification on the Separatists’ part. As we’ve seen in the last episode, the Republic and the Senate isn’t efficient at dealing with issues, making many frustrated and fed up with the slow pace, with the stalling, etc. Thus, despite reservations and warnings as to how this could backfire, the Jedi Council and other factions back the appointment of Palpatine as the leader of the Senate, who will act with semi-dictatorial rule to make more decisive decisions. It allows for greater efficiency in addressing problems and sidesteps the usual issues that would bog down the amount of time it would normally take. This is done out of fear of what the Separatists and their droid army will do. And the whole conflict (and the formation of the Separatists) was planned by the very guy they appointed as leader of the Senate, and thus of the Republic. And he used fear and exploited the weaknesses of mankind (and alienkind too, don’t want to alienate anyone) and government institutions to gain power and control. Even the Jedi Council admit that they are taking a very dangerous path here, electing Palpatine to such a position, even if it’s for good intentions (the road to Hell).
Good stuff. Too bad it’s marred by one of the worst fucking executions of a romance story I’ve ever seen in my life. Fuck me, the acting by Hayden Christensen is fucking horrendous, to the point of hilarity at times. It’s not helped by the dialogue, spoken by Padme and Anakin. This isn’t an issue one can ignore considering how much time is spent with them. But I have to admit, just this aspect alone makes this film perfect for Rifftrax. And after re-watching this, I consider it a sin to watch the film without the Rifftrax treatment.
Oh, but the pain and misery don’t end there. Aside from R2-D2 and C3-PO being more involved (gag me with a spoon), there’s also the action scenes during the first 3 quarters of the film. Most of them go for far too long (like when they’re chasing the assassin), and they get dull by the time they’re halfway over. I don’t care if there’s symbolism and foreshadowing in those scenes (Anakin getting his hand temporarily trapped on the conveyor belt foreshadowing his robotic arm), they needed serious trimming.
Then there’s Jengo Fette, who has a son named Boba Fette. Why the fuck do we need a Boba Fette connection in the PT? Stop making these forced and unnecessary connections to the OT! They don’t enhance either trilogy in any way and just make things more stupider (so stupider I’m saying the word that way instead of it’s appropriate spelling/usage).
And lastly, there’s Anakin. First, it seems as if too much of everything revolves around him. First there’s this prophecy bullshit (which, again, is something this trilogy could’ve done without). Then there’s the moment when he kills all these Sand People in a rage after his mother dies, and this rage and pain is felt by Yoda (oh please). And then there’s the meeting with those people who would go on to raise Luke Skywalker.
What the fuck!?!!!!!?
It serves no purpose! There’s no rhyme or reason for it! It’s bullshit! And on top of that, Obi-Wan doesn’t know about it, so it doesn’t make anymore sense for Obi-Wan to somehow conveniently albeit unwisely hand Luke over to them at the end of Episode III. It’s more bullshit “memba dis?” moments as a callback to the OT that shouldn’t exist in the first place. Illogical, fucks with the OT a bit, questions the rationality on everyone’s part, and at the very least seems like a dumb fucking hiding place. In fact, why the fuck even hide the babies in the first place if Anakin isn’t going to know what they look like? I mean, shit, one of them is hiding in– whoah, hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Need to hold back and save this rant for Episode III when the event actually happens. I’ll get back to you later you dumb fucking thing you.
Now, I don’t want to end the review of this film on a sour note, because at least the film had the decency of ending on a high note (at least in terms of entertainment value). The film kicks up a notch when our protagonists are in the arena fighting for their lives. Finally, an investing action sequence. And then the Jedi army shows up, and they start fighting against an army of robots. And despite how powerful the Jedi are, they’re not invincible, and they take heavy losses and are on the verge of getting wiped out. But then the clone army shows up to save the day, and then we get to see a massive battle between the droid army and the clone army. And it concludes with a fight between Anakin and Kenobi vs. Dooku, until Yoda steps in and showcases one of the most hilarious and awesome (at the same time) moment in Star Wars history. All of a sudden, it felt like it was worth getting through all that bullshit condensed into the first 2/3rds of the movie just to get to that last 3rd.
Oh, right, about the clone army. It’s a great concept, though it’s marred by the whole Fette connection thing (would’ve been a lot better if this asshole had any other name, and didn’t have a kid named Boba; the only fucking bobas I want as far as the PT is concerned are the bobas that go into smoothies).
Anyway, I found it a bit intriguing as to how it got started. Qui-Gon Jin (under the alias Sypho Dias) went to this planet to order their creation nearly a decade ago, under the orders of someone. I presume it was under either Palpatine’s orders, or by someone who was connected to Palpatine. I imagine there’s some extended universe (EU) book that goes more in-depth with this and offers more of an explanation. Either way, I found it intriguing. But it also shows how intelligent Palpatine is and how far-ahead he planned the whole conflict.
In addition, it showcases the strengths and weaknesses of the military in general when it comes to warfare. In this and episode I, we see that the droids, while effective to an extent, don’t have great reasoning powers, and are easily defeated if the station containing the computers that control them is destroyed. The clone army, on the other hand, they are more adaptable in combat, less robotic, and don’t all fall apart if one command center is destroyed. However, they are not independent, and always follow orders from the person in charge no matter what they are. A fault that will be showcased in the next film. In any case, I can’t help but think this is a statement about the military and warfare in general. How this trilogy acts as a warning against the future of warfare, and what the consequences will be if clones and/or machines are used in place of the regular human (or alien) fighter. What is lost when humanity is taken out of the conflict, a conflict where the casualties are not just the soldiers?
Anyway, once again the film ends on a scene representing peace and prosperity, albeit on a smaller scale. The union between Anakin and Padme. And again, it’s bittersweet, more-so than in the last film. Partly because Padme deep down knows that this relationship will end up destroying them. Partly because of the conflict everyone knows lies ahead (and there’s another near-end shot with Palpatine overlooking the Republic’s progress towards a state he desires). But mostly because this romance doesn’t live up to its potential because their acting and dialogue absolutely sucked!
Rated: 4 / 5
So Episode I had some flaws but was overall very entertaining. Episode II was full of bullshit but at least ended on a good last act. Episode III turned out to be the best of the PT, by a mile.
The opening text crawl begins almost declaratively, “War! It’s everywhere!” It also states that “There are heroes on both sides.” Already with that opening statement it brings even more potential for spin-offs and fan-made-content to build on that. Heroes on both sides? Does that include Jedi? Who are these heroes on the enemy side? What was their motivation for joining? From what I understand, much of this potential was utilized in the Clone Wars animated series (which I haven’t seen, though I’ve heard good things about it). It’s subtle things like that which helped elevate this entertaining yet flawed trilogy into a cultural revolution when it came to Star Wars products which were absolutely devoured by fans about as much as those young little 80s cunt kids devoured those Ewok toys.
Let me get the negatives out of the way right here right now, because there are a lot of positives to be had with this entry into the saga. First, fucking R2-D2 and C3-PO are still around jacking off (or if you’re female, fingering) the fans (and Lucas) who ate the Memba Berries. Second, why the fuck is Chewbacca in this? Third, the scene with Anakin and Kenobi on the ship after getting captured by Grevious’ forces (a grievous error; I can’t help it; if Lucas is going to create character with puns for names, I’m going to be making fucking puns; at least it wasn’t something stupid like Rose [Titanic was stupid too]), the way they got out of that predicament was stupid. I mean, seriously, Grevious is experienced with taking out Jedi, and he didn’t anticipate this bullshit?
Fourth, when Anakin turns to the dark side, I find it to be a stretch, to the breaking point, to believe that Anakin is capable of slaughtering younglings. It would’ve made more sense if he saw the clones doing the slaughtering, which would’ve provided better motivation near the end regarding the line, “Join me Padme, I can overthrow the Emperor, we can rule together!” Granted that’s a callback to the same line he said as Vader to Luke in Empire Strikes Back, but it could’ve been handled better. Because he is clearly someone who joined forces with the Emperor for reasons he personally considered out of necessity than out of want. On top of that, it makes him out to be more of an irredeemable dick.
Fifth, Padme dies because she, and I quote, “Lost the will to live.” Go fuck yourself, and your logic. You’re telling me this broad didn’t want to try raising her own children? That having love for her kids wasn’t reason enough to keep her going? Kinda makes her a selfish cunt if you ask me. Plus, with the way I interpreted the backstory in the OT, I thought that Luke and Leia’s mother would’ve still been alive for a respectable amount of time after she gave birth to the kids, but wanted to keep them away from Vader because she feared him, and he ended up killing her in a rage after finding out she had her kids hidden from him. Hell, this movie even provides another reason on top of that; because she had different beliefs and viewpoints regarding politics and the Republic and the Emperor compared to what Anakin believed.
[EDIT 6-30-2018: Ok, so maybe the film is more intelligent about the whole Padme death thing than I thought. There is an article which makes the argument that there is more going on in this sequence than what we see at face value. The fact that robots are disconnected from the force (because they’re not living things), and are unable to detect the force, and are thus unable to detect that an element of the force is draining the life away from Padme. Because Anakin still has a connection to her, a connection that Sidious is aware of. And the connection is used to sustain Anakin’s life until his transformation into Vader is complete. Plus, when paying very close attention to the sequence, not just the transitions between Anakin and Padme in pain, but also the sounds. Anakin’s heartbeat, how it continues, then goes silent for a few moments as the Vader mask is put onto him, then you hear Vader breathe, but no heartbeat. Anakin is dead, Vader is born, providing another element of truth to when Kenobi told Luke Vader murdered Anakin. I have to admit, when taking that into account, it makes me have further appreciation for this film. So issue #5 isn’t that big of an issue. By the way, I highly recommend checking the article out for more details on this sequence. It’s got some fascinating thought-provoking stuff in it.]
Sixth, you dumb fucking thing you! Why the fuck would they hide Luke on Tatooine? The very planet that Anakin grew up on!?!?!?
Seventh, and last. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Bhahahahahah! That moment ruined the whole grim and depressing nature of the last act in a moment of “so-bad-it’s-good.” Look, I’m all for so-bad-it’s-good moments, but not in a film that was on the verge of being a (non-comedy) masterpiece. Though I do have to admit this moment entertained the hell out of me, for the wrong reason. And for better or worse, it’s one of the most iconic moments of the movie. Oh, and one other thing. Anyone want to explain to me how it is Vader’s suit got ready so fast? Or did more time pass than the film is letting on?
“I think this war is destroying the principles of the Republic.”
Well anyway, onto the positives. This film contains some of the best action sequences in the entire Star Wars franchise. The scenes when the clones and droids are fighting, the lightsaber duels, the space fight, the fight on the ship in the beginning. If nothing else, it’s an action-junkie’s wet dream. Plus Hayden’s acting abilities have improved since the last film. And that’s just the surface level entertainment.
“What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?”
Back to the politics. So Palpatine is in power, and he claims he’ll relinquish it and put the Senate back the way it was prior to the Clone Wars. However, the Jedi Council fear that he intends to keep this power once the war is over. Yet they also know that if they make a move against Palpatine and put themselves in the position of power to try and restore the Senate to where it was, this would be a very dark path for them to take. A path that goes against the teachings and philosophies of the Jedi. Not to mention the Jedi are heavily involved in the war, not exactly acting as keepers of the peace. But it’s a moral grey area. On the one hand, if they don’t get involved, then the Separatists and the droid army would win, and that would spell doom for the Republic and put the galaxy in a state of total chaos. Plus they are right about Palpatine. If they don’t act, he will likely find a way to remain in power and change the Republic from a Democracy to a Dictatorship. A complicated issue the Jedi Council aren’t entirely sure how to deal with, creating a sense of fear and dread, and thus act against the Jedi way. Similar to how the Senate decides to act against the way of Democracy and out of a sense of fear support the rise of a dictator who claims will protect them. The Jedi Council begins to break down just like the Senate. Even one of their own, Count Dooku, leaves the Jedi Order (Episode II) to join the Separatists, and becomes seduced by Sidious for reasons we don’t know. And it’s better left up in the air, because each Jedi has their own personal beliefs, their own personal motivations, their own selfish interests that the dark side can exploit to seduce them to their side and their cause. The main one we see seduced in Anakin, for reasons that involve fear of losing a loved one, and being blinded by love.
The whole film (and to a greater extent, the trilogy) acts as a deconstruction of politics and religion, showcasing the dangers to how each can fall. And they both fall for similar reasons, because religion and politics, despite how much some countries promote the policy of separation between church and state, are bound to be interlinked. After all, if a government is for the people, and politicians are people, and if there are people who follow a religion, then the relationship is inescapable. Both fall to a dark religion that promotes rule by strength, control over all others, a lust for power and greed, and ultimately sows the seeds of division. Because if there can only be one ruler, only one god, then there cannot be a Democracy where the way of life is to work together, to talk things out, and vote for the best interest of as many as possible. Thus Democracies and peaceful religions must fall, seeds of fear and distrust must be sowed so that such division can be reaped later on. It is how evil can rise.
“All who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi.”
“The Jedi use their power for good.”
“Good is a point of view, Anakin.”
But what is good and what is evil? As Palpatine points out, good is a point of view. This is later expressed with Anakin saying to Kenobi, “From my point of view the Jedi are evil.” Even in Return of the Jedi, Kenobi expresses this same message, that many of the truths we cling to depend on our point of view. In Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker asks Yoda how he can tell the good from the bad, to which Yoda replies, “You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive.” The problem is that virtually no one in this film is calm, at peace, or passive. Virtually everyone is acting the opposite. Including the Jedi Council, who failed to foresee many of the tragedies that would occur. Yoda admits that they have become blind in Episode II, something that causes them to worry, hence not being at peace. They abandon passivity for war. And Anakin abandons calmness for passion. In fact, we see more of this hypocritical nature of the Jedi with Kanobi’s line, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” making an absolute statement, which isn’t something I would consider passive.
On the other hand, is there not a time where someone must no longer be passive? Is there not a time where doing nothing is the wrong thing? These philosophies are best served as generalities, there are exceptions. They state the Sith rely on their passions, are selfish, and only look inwards towards themselves, caring naught for others other than using them as a means to an end. But the Jedi rely not on passions, are selfless, and act to help others, caring for others (at least in theory and according to teachings). Being calm and at peace with oneself makes it easier to know when to act and when not to. Passions should be utilized, but not relied upon, since your feelings can betray you. One should be passive until a time comes to act. Knowing when and how to act comes with knowledge and wisdom, which I’m sure is also something the Jedi teach, as Yoda and Kenobi taught Luke in the OT. And as they said, following the path of the light is difficult, while following the path of the dark is easy. So of course there would be complications if trying to live life following the light side.
But because the dark side is so seductive, so tempting, many do fall to it. Many do give in to selfish acts. And politics and religion are a heavy factor for it. The war broke out because of a breakdown in politics and religion. Separatists were made causing worlds who were once allied with one another to fight against one another, turning friend against friend, loved one against loved one. Because they are convinced their way is right, their way is just, not considering the other perspective. Becoming unwilling to talk things out. Because it is much easier to do otherwise.
“So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.”
Thus it is easy for governments and religious groups to slowly erode until they fall. The temptations, the easy way, the passions and selfish acts. Too tempting for many to resist. And over the course of this trilogy, we see how they all erode away in one form or another. Eventually, sense of goodness and fairness and selflessness is eroded to the point where many applaud the act of doing away with the very thing they once held dear, sometimes for the illusion of “a safe and secure society.” While the PQ is about the fall of the Republic and the Jedi due to this corruption, the OT is about overthrowing the corrupted and bringing hope for a new era, a time for a new government and a new religion (or a resurrected one). How even when the light seems extinguished, there is always a way to re-ignite it and bring back order. It doesn’t happen easily, it takes time, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice, but it can be done. How unfortunate it is then that the more recent trilogy doesn’t continue this cycle by showing the other aspect, which one wouldn’t be wrong in assuming should be the rise of a new Republic, a new democracy, and how to maintain it and prevent it from slipping down the same path as the Republic and Jedi Council did in the PT. And finding a way to balance telling such a story on a personal level (a protagonist caught in the middle of a conflict brought on by political forces) and on an impersonal level (while the politicians and religious leaders make their own moves and developments that affect the protagonists, and even antagonists). From what I understand, Lucas had a similar vision for episodes VII-IX if he ever got around to making them. But he didn’t, because he felt it was time to move on, to let others tell their own story, to bring what they could for this franchise, this saga.
And what did they bring? What did they expand? Something I’ll address in a later review when I revisit those films.
Until then, my conclusions on this film and the PT. It’s a flawed trilogy, but not without its moments of greatness. Potential lost and unfulfilled, matched by potential achieved. Imperfect yet wildly entertaining. Ambitious with the new material unleashed, yet flounders when providing fan-service by forcing in the familiar. I enjoy the trilogy in spite of its flaws (and make due with the severe flaws of Episode II by giving it the Rifftrax treatment), and revel in the glamorous moments that succeed. The battles of the last act between Yoda and Sidious, between Anakin and Kenobi, the music that accompanies these sequences. Even if most of the content is disregarded as garbage, this moments stand the test of time as masterpiece sequences. Plus one can’t ignore the emotional impact some of these scenes have, particularly the fall of the Jedi when order 66 is executed.
If nothing else, one can’t ignore the soundtrack provided by John Williams, who some say single-handedly saved this trilogy from being a total disaster. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it would’ve been a disaster without his music, but I will say that it rivals that of the OT, which is an incredible accomplishment in of itself. Too much greatness to label the films as complete garbage, too many flaws to label them as masterpieces. A flawed gem is what I would call them.
So I would say this is a trilogy worth revisiting. If it’s been many years since you’ve seen it, you may find some things in it that make it better than you remember. In some ways it’s more intelligent than it seems, yet remains as dumb as you’ve heard/remembered in others. Either way, there’s some fun to be had, and some thought-provoking moments.
PS: Well that seemed to end on a bit of a serious note. Let’s close this by lightening things up a bit.
Alright, I think I’ve held off long enough on reviewing these films, so let’s get to it. But it should be mentioned that I am not a major die-hard fan of the Star Wars franchise. I’ve only really watched the movies, I haven’t ever gotten into the spin-off comics, novels, or tv shows. So I don’t know hardly anything about the extended universe. I’m just going to be looking at these as one who has only watched the films, and hasn’t dug all that deeply into the lore beyond that, and that’s it. Also, the original trilogy is great, the special edition versions can lick my butt and suck on my balls.
Oh, and there will be spoilers.
Rated: 3 / 5
Contrary to what current versions say about the first Star Wars film being titled Episode IV: A New Hope, that is not how it started out. It started out with just the title Star Wars, no episode number, no sub-name, that was it. And it blew audiences away back in the day, more so than Jaws.
But past, mash. What are my thoughts on it today? It’s a decent film. I don’t hold this particular film as one of the greatest of all time, but I do admire its reputation and historical significance on film history, and the entire original trilogy is worth watching just for that reason alone. It has enough to it to keep me interested, but it comes off as an entertaining popcorn flick, just a B movie. The main portion of the film where it shined for me was during the finale, the Death Star battle. That entire last act is intense, and still holds up rather well to this day, despite a couple special effects that show their age (especially this brief moment where the size perspective of an X-Wing seems way off). This is a film that definitely saves the best part for last.
It’s also the film that has the worst lightsaber fight in the history of Star Wars films. The Kenobi vs. Vader fight, good God, is it bad. I mean, I know Kenobi is old and all, but I wish they put more effort into the choreography. Considering the whole lightsaber thing, and much of the jedi lore, is heavily inspired by the way of the samurai (because the Japanese are awesome), and also considering they can use the force, you would think that they could put up a better effort than this.
This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times… before the Empire.
Everything else I thought was entertaining enough, albeit nothing too spectacular (again, I’m speaking regarding my views of today, not how many would’ve viewed it back then). The acting is so-so (except for Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, who shined brightly in that role), special effects are good enough, the music is iconic (so much so that it would be utilized in virtually every other Star Wars film that follows), and the story is basic (but with a few brilliant subtle tidbits sprinkled in here and there that are easily missed). And seriously, George Lucas was heavily inspired not just by Buck Rogers stuff, but also by Akira Kurasawa films, particularly The Hidden Fortress. Sure there’s also the whole critique on totalitarian governments and stuff, which is very simplified but given a small amount of depth in a brief scene where Vader gets in a brief squabble with some individual in a high-command position. So while the whole film is simple, the simplicity is a tad bit deceptive. It’s no Dark Crystal by any stretch, but there’s enough to indicate hidden potential.
Regarding that tapped potential, Obi-Wan says this line: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” This line will be repeated in an altered form in the next film, but with a more personal note to it, and dare I say with better delivery by a puppet.
There’s also a message of martyrdom: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” And of course, the message of rebelling against a corrupt/totalitarian empire, which I suppose could be reflective of either the United States or Vietnam or China or Russia during the time period (the Cold War and some of the stuff all nations were doing at the time made something as simple as this relevant, though this message has been done to death in the present age of film):
“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”
“Well, the Empire doesn’t consider a small one-man fighter to be any threat, or they’d have a tighter defense. An analysis of the plans provided by Princess Leia has demonstrated a weakness in the battle station. But the approach will not be easy.”
The message can be used in virtually any of the above Cold War conflicts, as anti-U.S. (in the case of Vietnam), pro-U.S. (against totalitarian regimes of Russia and China), and perhaps in similar situations of today. Funnily enough, even the prequel trilogy takes on this concept in the more present-day light (more on that in a future post).
The hidden potential would be ripped out of its hiding place and thrust into the spotlight in the next film, which would blast this soon-to-be franchise from entertaining popcorn/blockbuster status into legendary “biggest fan-base next to Star Trek of all time” status.
Rated: 5 / 5
As you can tell from the rating, this is one of my favorite films of all time. And this is the movie that made Star Wars the franchise it is today. Let me rephrase that, it made Star Wars the franchise it was until Disney got a hold of it (more on that later, in a future blog post). Everything that was in the previous film has been expanded in incredible ways, from the characters themselves to the lore with the force and the way of the jedi. This is the film that evolved the force and the jedi from a basic B-movie idea/concept into a religion (and by religion, I mean people in real-life follow it). And on top of that, the film and acting quality improved from the last film. It’s also the first film, despite what George Lucas rewriting history may want you to believe, to use episodic numbers. And rather than do an episode II, it went straight to episode V. I guess George Lucas did have some high ambition for these films. And from what I’ve gathered with behind the scenes stuff, though I can’t swear as to how solid of an idea this was at the time, Lucas did want to do a prequel trilogy and a sequel trilogy on top of this trilogy. More on those later (in a future post).
Anyway, so the high point of the last film was the assault on the Death Star. In my opinion, it was the best scene of the entire film, and the only other things that even approach that level of being memorable and noteworthy, the concept of lightsabers and the force aside, was the millennium falcon and going to lightspeed. This film starts out with it’s own high memorable moments pretty damn fast. First the abominable snowman shows up (I know that’s not what it’s actually called, for all you die hard Star Wars geeks who are super into this and can’t take a joke). But topping that, then comes the Battle of Hoth. The asteroid chase. The training on Dagoba. Being frozen in carbonite. Han and Leia’s developing relationship. The epic lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader. This whole film is filled to the brim with awesomeness.
Regarding the development of the jedi and the force, this is hinted at with Luke demonstrating that telekinesis is possible when he strains to reach his lightsaber. This develops from his ability to reflexively react to something just before it happens, and to listen to a jedi ghost (though it’s also implied that this is possible with Vader force-choking a guy in the last film, but even that is developed even more indicating he doesn’t even need to be in the same room as the guy he wants to force-choke, just within a vicinity of a couple miles). We begin to see more of the full potential of the force. This is developed much further in Dagobah, where Yoda teaches Luke the ways of the force, not only enhancing the telekinetic ability, but showcasing how the Force can enhance one’s strength and endurance, and can even enhance one’s ability to see into the future, going beyond enhanced reflexes (though Yoda is quick to mention that the future is always in-flux, always uncertain, that what one sees is only one possibility, something also utilized in Frank Herbert’s Dune). And the ways of the Force are about much more than just power, like how martial arts are more than just about self-defense.
Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
Vader… Is the dark side stronger?
No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack.
A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph! Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!
All of this also building on the theme of the last film about how even the smallest powers, the most ancient of forces, a small rebellion, can make the biggest of differences against a giant empire, against a great foe, against the most notorious and darkest of forces. And despite the war against the Empire, despite the violence needed on the part of the rebellion, the film carefully and brilliantly inserts an anti-war message into it, not necessarily indicating that war is always unnecessary, but that that one must only enter into it with great care (which also subtly takes a jab at the U.S. for the Vietnam War):
Wars not make one great.
A lesson that you could say Luke doesn’t take to heart, as he rushes into battle against Darth Vader, despite the warnings given by Yoda and ghost Obi-Wan, with consequences that leave him permanently scarred. And yet, things also don’t turn out as disastrous as Yoda and Obi-Wan believed they would for Luke. He still manages to come back out alive (though not in one piece), he is still the best hope for taking down Vader and the Empire, and you could argue he has become humbled from the experience. Well, maybe not the latter, as we see with his character during most of the next film (more on that later). The point being, even a master can be wrong, though their words of wisdom and advice should still not be ignored, as they have lived longer and have more experience and have learned more than the pupil could.
Back to Luke and Vader. So in the first film, Luke is a simple boy who is ambitious, courageous, and seeks adventure. Vader was just a simple 2-dimensional villain. This film changed all that, in a good way. Aside from showcasing Luke’s flaws, how his ambition can also lead him to be over-ambitious, it also shows how Luke and Vader are more than they appear. Hints of this are given at various points in the film, including the very beginning, during the text crawl. It states that Vader is obsessed with finding Luke. So at first one would think, “Just how 2-dimensional is this villain? Is he that pissed about Luke blowing up the Death Star? Not exactly that interesting of a motivation.” But then the twist comes, and it’s revealed Vader was chasing Luke for different reasons entirely. Because he has come to learn that Luke is his long-lost son. This revelation blew people away back in the day, and it’s also a very effective moment that develops both of these characters dramatically. It raises the stakes, and raises a number of questions and theories, including the ulterior motives for Obi-Wan and Yoda with why they trained Luke, why they choose him as the one to bring balance to the force. It also brings insight into the backstory as to how the Empire came to be, how Vader came to be, and so on. There is a lot to take in from this twist, both on the surface and below the surface, which is ultimately what makes it one of the greatest twists/reveals of all time in film history. It gave an even greater amount of depth to the franchise.
Which brings me to the duel between Vader and Luke. This isn’t just a lightsaber fight that is happening here. Vader isn’t setting out just to beat Luke, he is also trying to train him in his own way, in a far different way than Yoda was training Luke. While Yoda utilized no violence on Luke, and discouraged violence and anger, and promoted the message of being at peace and being calm in all things, Vader is getting Luke to act out aggressively and letting his emotions rule him. Telling Luke to use his anger and hatred to his advantage to win his battles. The battle is fought in stages, with Luke clearly not as skilled as Vader, yet he is also tapping into his power and potential (not to mention his youth and not being hindered by scars of the past like Vader is) to continue going head-to-head with him. But he is ultimately not strong or experienced enough, and Vader utilizes both skill and strength to best Luke. The first stage of the fight shows that Luke, while not as good as Vader, is still capable of fighting him off, even if Vader is holding back on him; it ends with Luke knocking Vader off a platform. The second stage showcases Vader’s power, and makes it clear Luke is not on Vader’s level, and ends with Luke getting bashed by flying objects and blown out the window (thus a much more violent knockdown off a platform compared to what Luke did to Vader). The last stage of the fight has Vader continually backing Luke up more and more until he’s cornered with no place to go. A corner that Vader has backed Luke up into just as much as Luke’s decisions have put him into. And it ends with Luke’s literal fall.
This film has more layers in it than the first film. It is also the film that made Star Wars the iconic franchise with the large fan-base it has had for decades afterwords. So many iconic moments, complimented with continued iconic music (that matches the strength of the music scores used in the previous film), it would bee very difficult to go through them all in detail in a single review; which is why I’m not even going to try. If you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films, you owe it to yourself to at least watch the first two. If you don’t enjoy them by then, you’ll likely not enjoy the franchise in general. Because The Empire Strikes Back is easily the high-point of the franchise. Unfortunately, it’s a point that the franchise wouldn’t be able to reach again to this day. But in all fairness, this is a very high bar that not many films have reached. And that doesn’t mean there isn’t entertainment to be had with the other films. Speaking of which…
Rated: 3 / 5
This is one of those films I’m conflicted with. A part of me wants to like it more than I do (currently, I do like it more than the first Star Wars film), but the critical part of me gets too irritated by the flaws and missed opportunities to ever allow me to enjoy it that much. But I’ve come to appreciate the film regardless of its flaws. Besides, it’s not as if it doesn’t have strengths.
The first act, for instance. Some people take issue with it for some reason because it doesn’t move the overall plot forward and is just one overlong rescue sequence. I say those people can take their opinions and shove them up their ass. The whole first act is probably the best part of the movie. No one cares about the middle act except for furries. And the last act, well, I’ll get to that in a minute, that deserves special attention.
Anyway, the first act. There’s a second reason for this existing besides getting Harrison Ford back into the franchise (and besides putting Leia in that famous slave costume). It’s also to highlight Luke Skywalker’s trained jedi abilities, and to showcase what a jedi is capable of. His mind control tricks, his telekinesis, his skills with a lightsaber, using the force to jump further than normal, etc. It highlights what the jedi were like before the dark times. At the same time, it also showcases that he’s not invincible, still capable of making mistakes, and still has the flaw of being overly ambitious. Him and his friends all planned for this rescue, but what would’ve happened if the whole thing backfired and they all got killed? Pretty sure the whole rebellion would be screwed at that point, because Luke, Leia, and Lando are all valuable members to the rebel alliance. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only reason they were able to do this rescue mission was because they were in high ranking positions within the alliance. Or maybe I’m reading too much into that. Either way, the whole rescue turned out to be a gamble, considering the few things that went wrong.
What’s more, it’s also a very dark atmosphere, and Luke himself is darkly clothed and acts rather deviously and over-confidently, indicating that he is falling to the dark side a bit despite Yoda’s teachings (one could guess that this is his father’s influence rubbing off on him). It gives the feel of our protagonists being deep within a dark seedy atmosphere, foreshadowing that they will be taking on the dark side, both Luke against Vader and the Emperor, and the others against the Empire (which I guess can be considered one and the same). And all that aside, the whole Jabba’s Palace and Rancor and Sarlac Pit thing is friggin’ awesome. I’m a sucker for that shit.
So with the first act out of the way, there is something I’ve noticed about this film compared to the first two. There’s a severe lack of great philosophical dialogue. The first film had some great lines that offered food for thought, such as, “Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” The second film was filled to the brim with more of that, especially by Yoda. But in this film, Yoda only repeats stuff said in the last film, and no one else really says anything all that enlightening. George Lucas wrote the first film and this one (he stayed out of Empire Strikes Back for a bit), so either his quality dropped or he listened too much to someone else. Lawrence Kashdan also helped with the screenplay, but he’s done some good stuff too during that time period. So I’m not sure what the hell happened. I guess they just slacked off or got too depressed from getting divorced or something. The best the film has to offer in this regard is this line ghost Obi-Wan says to Luke:
So, what I told you was true… from a certain point of view.
A certain point of view?
Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.
So at least it offers the message of taking into account that one must learn to see things from multiple perspectives in order to gain a higher understanding of the universe. That being said, this message isn’t utilized well-enough in this film. That, and Obi-Wan comes off as a bit of an asshole with this line of reasoning. One of the several missed opportunities.
But then there’s a whole new level of cheesiness that none of the Star Wars films have reached until this moment. When the Emperor shows up. Holy Mother of Christ, this guy’s dialogue. Seriously, when’s the last time you’ve seen this movie and took a good listen to the Emperor? This is the type of dialogue that everyone and their mother associates with mustache-twirling villains of animated films of the 80s and earlier, and from the 50s and older, and all the old-school trashy sci-fi and fantasy films. I mean, just listen to this guy and the lines he spouts and the way he delivers these lines:
I was trying desperately not to laugh my ass off at this guy. This actor and the character he plays is pure gold. He is the most pure form of evil cartoony villainy in existence. But I’m positive that this was all intentional. Everyone knew what they were doing with this guy. I believe this goes back to the whole Buck Rogers influence, Lucas wanted a villain who acted this cheesy and this full of himself. Many will have very mixed opinions about this guy, as to whether he is great or terrible, and I could sympathize with either point of view. Either way, I found this character to be entertaining as hell; I’m just not sure if it’s for all the right reasons or all the wrong reasons.
Anyway, the other good stuff. The forest speed-chase, despite the outdated green-screen effects, still works to this day for one reason only. The lack of music and the focus on the sound effects. Those sound effects MAKE that scene. The echo of the speeder as it passes by the camera, the sounds it makes. It creates the tension a sequences like that needs. The sound effect crew needed a medal for that.
And then there’s the final fight between Luke and Vader. It’s so-so at first, not on the same level as the one from the previous film, but it still does a good job at telling a story, mainly that Luke has now surpassed Vader, but is conflicted with how to deal with him, struggling to find the best way to resolve all this. He knows he shouldn’t strike him down in hatred, but he doesn’t want to strike him down at all. And yet the hatred the Emperor instills in Luke is the only thing that makes him want to fight. Because the Emperor knows how to use his own emotions against him. Eventually, Vader figures out how to do that as well, but more effectively. And how could he not? He’s more personally involved with Luke after all. So Luke finally snaps and unleashes his hatred upon Vader, resulting in a more memorable lightsaber duel. The haunting music makes this sequence more powerful, further highlighting that Luke is on the wrong path, and may not be able to turn back from it. And as a result Luke bests Vader in combat, unleashing his anger and using his hatred to try and destroy him, as Vader indicated he should in the previous film. The one thing that stops Luke from going so far as to kill him and become more ruled by emotion and a slave to the Emperor as a result was seeing how his actions are a repeat of similar actions his father did in the past. Seeing that his father has a robotic arm, just like he does now, and being ruled by emotion will, ironically, make him more machine than man, losing more and more sense of humanity. Seeing this is ultimately what stops him. This also gives insight as to how Vader had turned down this path, ruled by his emotions, betrayed by his emotions, and having the dark side use his emotions against him, putting him down a path he believed there was no turning away from because of what he had done in his anger. And because, as Yoda indicated in Empire Strikes Back, he was focused more on the future than on the present.
The emotions are high in that fight sequence, but they reach an even higher point in the aftermath as Luke is trying to take Vader off the ship after Vader turns on the Emperor, and suffering fatal damage as a result (either to his body, or to the electronic breathing suit that helps keep him alive; same result). Seeing the emotion on Luke’s face when he sees his father’s true face for the first time (as does the audience), and what Vader says to him afterwards.
I’ll not leave you here. I’ve got to save you.
You already have, Luke.
Have to admit, I get a bit choked up each time I see this scene.
So that’s the final conflict with Luke and Vader getting resolved rather nicely. Then there’s the final way the trilogy shows the potential of the force. With Luke, we see mastery over telekinesis, using the lightsaber reflexively against lasers, and enhanced strength with jumping and kicking. But then there’s the Emperor himself, with the big reveal of the full power of the dark side being force-lightning. Now, as awesome as it looks, its impact is weakened considering how long it takes for him to try killing Luke with this power. The force-choke seems more effective than this. Another element in the film that could’ve been utilized more effectively, but wasn’t.
But anyway, all that aside, the downsides to the finale of this trilogy. First, the Ewoks. Yes, they’re cute and adorable and perfect for merchandising (which is why they went with them in the first place), but fuck these fucking furballs. They should’ve gone with the Wookies like they originally were going to do. At least those are menacing enough to take on stormtroopers more convincingly than furry midgets. You can’t convince me that these furry fucks can help take down an empire army, I don’t care how in-line that is with the theme of David taking down Goliath. I would like to see how they setup these log traps by themselves. I refuse to believe that an entire army of these things is capable of stacking a bunch of tree logs together, or lifting several of them up into a tree.
And like I said earlier, aside from the Emperor where this sort of thing works, the dialogue has gotten a downgrade. Hell, I think it’s worse than the first Star Wars movie. Though it does have one of the most memorable lines ever that is used as a meme and a comedy clip in every-other youtube video.
And then there’s the twist of Leia being Luke’s sister. Granted, they did put this to decent use by having Vader use this revelation as a weapon against Luke, but it comes off as shoehorned in. Like they were trying to keep up with the similar revelation in Empire Strikes Back. It just feels weak in hindsight. Nothing much really comes of this, and the new Star Wars trilogy doesn’t really build off of this in any significant way. They mine as well as have kept her unrelated to the family line in my opinion. But it does make one wonder, “If not Leia, then who is the other that Yoda spoke of in Empire Strikes Back?” I wouldn’t know. Maybe this twist could’ve worked if they did more with it. Maybe some spin-off books do more with it. As-is, it really doesn’t seem like anything special.
And lastly, there’s the ending itself. Now don’t get me wrong, the finale is fine for the most part, with an entertaining space battle, a decent action sequence in the forest (despite my gripes about the ewoks), and a good enough final confrontation between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. But the last moments of the film is just everyone dancing and celebrating with the ewoks in the forest (now I’m going to gripe about them again, fuck’em). Nothing is shown to establish just how big of a victory this was for the rebellion to show the fall of the empire, at least not in the original theatrical edition. Now granted, the special editions do show this sort of impact by having a crowd of people topple over a statue of the emperor, but you would think the last moment of the film would end on a more epic note. And no, the ghosts of the past making an appearance isn’t good enough for a final screen moment before the credits roll, as effective as that may be as a stand-alone scene (and the special editions manage to fuck that up, negating the praise I had for the broader scope). It’s unfortunate that the trilogy closes in that way, considering how strong of a note the previous two films closed out on.
So The Last Jedi is a mixed bag, with as much awesome stuff as it has bad stuff. The awesome stuff is enough to make me enjoy it more than the first film, but the bad stuff threatens to change my mind, depending on my mood. But hey, at least it’s not Godfather III or Alien 3 or Spiderman 3, or whatever other end to a trilogy there is that sucks. While not ending on as strong of a note as some fans wanted, it’s still decent enough. The pros outweigh the cons. But it’s the most frustrating of all Star Wars movies simply because of lost potential.
So I know what you’re thinking. Will this review contain spoilers? You bet your ass it will. I’m gonna spoil the shit out of this movie. But before I do that, there’s a few things I need to get off my chest. I’ll put up a spoiler warning sign when I get to that point. So for those who are worried about spoilers and just want to know my opinion on the entertainment level of this film, how good or bad it is, I’ll say this. It is better than The Force Awakens, and addressed some of the issues I had with that film. That being said, this is a film that basically did 3 steps forward, 2 steps back, which frustrates the shit out of me because it could easily have done 4 steps forward and 1 step back instead (there was know way they were going to go all 5 steps forward, not with a Disney movie). So if you loved The Force Awakens, you’ll love this. If you hated The Force Awakens, this might change your mind and give you some hope for the final installment in the trilogy (except that that hack Jar Jar Abrams will be back in the director’s chair for that film, which has me worried, even if it’s an improvement upon the last director attached to that film; Christ I wish Christopher Nolan would grow a pair of balls and try one of these out). And just to throw this in, if you loved The Force Awakens more than Rogue One, go fuck yourself.
So, after seeing that optimistic upbeat Rogue One image above, let’s talk about The Force Awakens. That movie, honestly, wasn’t as great as people are making it out to be. They’re just excited that it’s made better than at least two of the films in the prequel trilogy. But that should be a bare minimum requirement for a film in this franchise.
It needs to be more than just a rehash of plot elements from Episode IV and V. Because that’s essentially what The Force Awakens is. Starts out on a desert planet where a droid is left to wander until it is rescued by the main protagonist (Oh my God! Luke is a woman!), who then proceeds to go on an adventure, in space! But to throw some twists and turns, the Obi-Wan character isn’t introduced until they get off-planet, in which case Harrison Ford shows up, who is now old enough to be the teacher rather than the student. Except that this mentor doesn’t teach the protagonist much, because she already seems to know everything (I’ll get to that in a moment), including the ways of the force better than anyone is the movie (save for stopping a laser blast in mid-air and holding it in position, which they didn’t do enough with; I’ll get to that later). But he still dies like Obi-Wan, with the same “No!” reaction by the protagonist, except she’s capable of actually getting tears in her eyes while young Mark Hamill couldn’t pull that off. Oh, and there’s another fucking Death Star (couldn’t last that long without throwing in a fuck-bomb), only bigger. Bigger isn’t always better!
And then there’s the plot holes. Chewy survived setting off the explosions? The villain managed to get off the planet in time? They could time slowing down from light speed at just the right moment that perfectly?
The main protagonist of The Force Awakens, Rey (mine as well be Ray for ray of sunshine, hardy har har), is nothing short of a Mary Sue. What is a Mary Sue you might ask? Well let the Urban Dictionary explain it for you:
A female fanfiction character who is so perfect as to be annoying. The male equivlalent is the Marty-Stu. […] The Mary Sue character is almost always beautiful, smart, etc… In short, she is the “perfect” girl. The Mary Sue usually falls in love with the author’s favorite character(s) and winds up upstaging all of the other characters in the book/series/universe. There are several main types of Mary Sue:
Warrior!Sues: The Warrior!Sue is usually loud, obnoxious and (of course) an amazing warrior. She’ll usually have some tragic past that led her to become a warrior, and she’ll upstage all of the Canonical characters with her mad Sueish powerz.
Mage!Sue: Similar to the Warrior!Sue, the Mage!Sue has amazing stregnth in magic, or has a magical power that nobody else has. She’ll usually wind up upstaging all of the magical characters of the series.
Finally, Sues often have wierd, improbable or impossible bloodlines. A secret half-elf child of Elrond and a nameless human would be an example of this. A character who was Dumbledore’s grandchild and Tom Riddle’s daughter would be another example.
by nscangal July 29, 2005
In other words, someone who is too perfect, too good, who has little to no room for character improvement, whether it be overcoming flaws in her character, personality, or skills. Because without any teaching or guidance or even learning by example, by the end of the film and over the course of one or two day’s time (tops), she has not only learned the ways of the force to the point of being able to mind control others, read minds, and learn how to fight better than anyone else (though to be fair, she did show good combat skills early on before she got swept up in the adventure in space), but she also learned how to fly a fucking spacecraft with very little experience flying spacecraft, and no experience with the Millennium Falcon whatsoever. I mean, seriously, what does she have to fear at this point? What the hell is Smeagol supposed to bring to the table in the sequel (hope I eat my words on that)? What improvements does she need at this point?
I’m just hoping that The Force Awakens exists just to get the Callback 101 out of its system, and (light)speed character strength development so that they are at top optimum strength for some epic battle that is to come in the sequel. But if the sequel is more of the same uninspired unoriginal bullshit that The Force Awakens is, then I’m going to consider The Force Awakens to be a very terrible film. I’m already predicting some, “I am your Mother/Father/Brother/Sister/Nephew/Cousin/Former Roommate” twist for Rey in the sequel (isn’t everyone? My bet’s on Smeagol), but I’m also hoping she will go to the dark side. That would be an excellent twist. The dangers of power, of acquiring power so fast, that she becomes mad with the powers of the force she has. Just go all in with that. Then the once savior of the universe now becomes the universe’s worst enemy, and that Fin guy from the movie will have to go against her in some fashion after becoming more developed, fleshed out, and more skilled. Say what you will about Fin being a bit annoying when he’s trying to be funny, but at least his character arc has better setup and potential than hers, especially if they don’t go with the “she goes evil” twist. Honestly, most of the attempts at humor annoyed me more upon revisit than it did initially when I saw that movie again.
And say what you will about how terrible the prequels were, at least they didn’t rehash plot elements from the original trilogy. Not only that, but each film had at least one outstanding memorable moment. The Phantom Menace had Darth Maul, the pod race, and Duel of the Fates. The Clone Wars had that arena battle, and Yoda using a lightsaber for the first time on-screen. Revenge of the Sith had General Grevous, a bunch of amazing battles to behold, and two incredible lightsaber battles in the finale. What the hell does The Force Awaken have other than Han getting killed (cheap ploy since it’s a rehash of Obi-Wan dying in A New Hope) and having the first lead female jedi?
And, honestly, am I the only one who thinks there were too many teenagers in that movie? Aside from the old cast showing up, where the fuck were all the adults to put these kids in their place? In both the Rebellion, Resistance, or whatever they call themselves now (watch Rogue One and you’ll get that reference), and the First Order (why first? didn’t the Empire come before them? Why not the Second Order, or Third? Hell, why not Fourth since it rhymes with Force, sort of, and is a callback to the franchise starting on episode IV?). And that other non-Smeagol villain in the movie. Oh my God. He really hammed up his role as much as he possibly could didn’t he? I mean, that speech he gave just before the Death Egg fired its laser. Priceless overacting.
Right, the positives for that movie. Special effects were good. It was nice to see practical effects take stage with the CG, more-so than the prequels did (especially the Special Edition versions, where they remove puppet Yoda). The villain Kylo Ren, it’s nice to see a villain who has anger issues and is a bit of a crybaby as opposed to a mature self-controlled leader like villains of the past. That’s a nice change-up. Also cool to see that Storm Troopers are equipped with weapons that can go against lightsabers. And it had one decent long take with that X-Wing taking out a bunch of tie-fighters while Fin is fighting on the ground. And the film recaptures that fun sci-fi adventure that the first film had, even if it had to rehash a lot of the first film to do that.
The Force Awakens Rating: 2/5 (subject to increase if the sequel is great)